/ 21 August 2018

Student activist locked out of Union Buildings

Fees Must Fall activist Bonginkosi Khanyile.
Bonginkosi Khanyile was convicted on public violence charges earlier this month. (Facebook)

Economic Freedom Fighters student activist Bonginkosi Khanyile has been locked out of the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

Khanyile travelled from Durban to Pretoria on Tuesday with his mattress to stage a sleep-out on the lawns of the Union Buildings. However, upon arrival, he found the gates at the entrance were locked.

The activist, accompanied by his mother Phumzile Khathini, and a “comrade” Philani Nzuza, had planned to sleep at the Union Buildings until President Cyril Ramaphosa’s responded to his request for a presidential pardon for those arrested during the #FeesMustFall protests.

“I’m happy comrades because when I planned to come here in Pretoria, I actually planned this journey alone. I was seated, frustrated, thinking and rethinking about my conviction. After seeing all that has happened around me, I said as a young person there is something I must do,” Khanyile told his supporters outside the Union Buildings.

National SAPS spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo said he was not aware that Khanyile had not been allowed on the premises of the Union Buildings.

Kanyile was convicted on public violence charges earlier this month.

The Durban University of Technology student had been convicted of public violence, possession of a dangerous weapon and failing to comply with a police instruction.

He will be sentenced on October 16.

READ MORE: Bonginkosi Khanyile guilty of public violence, court finds

Meanwhile, the presidency has said the activist’s pilgrimage to the Union Buildings is misdirected and should be targeted at the Justice Department.

“The President is sympathetic to and appreciative of the justness of the cause of the activists, however, the petitioning of the Union Buildings is unfortunately misdirected,” said presidency spokesperson Khusela Diko.

“The President cannot interfere with the prosecutorial decisions of the NPA [National Prosecuting Authority].

“This is one of the sacrosanct principles of our law so he cannot decree a ‘blanket amnesty’ as some of the calls demand.

“As for pardons, the Department of Justice, not the President, should be approached for this. There are clear processes to be followed by those seeking a pardon.”

She said the department will only make a recommendation when the processes have been followed.

Trade Union, Numsa has called for charges against all activists arrested during the #FeesMustFall protests to be dropped.

“Students were forced to embark on protest action because the ANC-led government has consistently ignored them on the just demand for free, quality, decolonised higher education,” said Irvin Jim, secretary general of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa in a statement on Tuesday.

Numsa said that so far 21-year-old Khanya Thandile Cekeshe is serving a sentence of eight years, (three years suspended) for allegedly setting a police van alight during the #FeesMustFall protests in 2016.

READ MORE: Student leader Bonginkosi Khanyile aces studies while in jail

UCT student Masixole Mlandu was ordered last week to undergo community service after he was arrested during the protests.

Mcebo Dlamini walked to the Union Buildings from Johannesburg on Friday to draw attention to his and other accused students’ plight and is expected to be tried in September for alleged public violence and damage to property.

“The ANC government has used the police and judiciary to persecute, prosecute and jail students for fighting for free education, a perfectly legitimate demand found in the Freedom Charter,” said Jim.

He said thousands of working class students participated in the public protests because they were being excluded from accessing education because it is costly. — News24